Chapter 8

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Cade shut the front door quietly, but Faith still flinched. The reality of what happened was really beginning to sink in. How could she have been so stupid? She knew better than to leave her gun more than an arm's length away. She wasn't very good with it yet but it made her feel safer to have it with her. Not to mention that anyone on the business end of it didn't know if she were a good shot or not. She was definitely going to have to improve her skills!

She turned around to see her reflection in the full length mirror across the room and was reminded that she was only in her chemise, and it was glued to her still damp body like a second skin. Her cheeks flamed knowing that Cade, no Mr. Jacobs had seen her this way, and naked at the creek. She was just thankful that he happened along when he did. She didn't want to think about what could have happened otherwise. Pushing all thoughts of the evening's events from her mind, she dropped her clothes on the floor and padded over to the bed. Faith removed her damp chemise letting it fall, grabbed her night gown, and crawled into bed.

She was exhausted, but still could not go to sleep. At first all she could do was see that stranger as he fell to the ground, dead. But then, she thought about pale green eyes. Her body began to tingle everywhere he'd touched her, behind her knees and around her back. Faith could still feel the steady beat of his heart where her cheek had pressed against his chest as he carried her from the creek to the house. His chest had been firm and his arms felt like warm bands of steel as they held her to him. Those were her last thoughts before she finally drifted off to sleep.

It had been three days since Cade shot the stranger on Faith's land. After he left her cabin, he'd changed into dry clothes and woken up the men. All three of them should have been wide awake when he fired his gun, but none of them had been and he was furious. Jack, Yancey, and John stood in front of him as Cade told them what happened. When he finished each man was deathly white. Jack and Yancey both liked Faith and didn't want to see her hurt, but if something happened to her, Levi would literally kill them.

John on the other hand was concerned only for Faith. They had become good friends the past couple of years and truth be known, he had a crush on her. No, he loved her, he had since he had taken her to Red Valley two and a half years ago. Oh, he knew she didn't feel the same way. He was only eighteen and she was twenty three, but that didn't seem to matter to his heart. "Is she okay? He didn't hurt her did he?" John found himself wishing the man weren't dead so that he could kill the bastard.

"No, he just scared the hell out of her." Cade said to John, then he turned to Jack and Yancey. "I want the two of you to go up to the creek and bring the body down here. Wrap him in a blanket and put him in the barn."

"I'll go check on her and see if she needs anything." John turned to head out the door.

"No."

"No? She may need me or something. I – I've known her longer than anyone else here." John added quickly. The last thing he needed was for everyone to know how he really felt about her.

"No she won't. She's in bed asleep."

John nodded, then a thought occurred to him. "Why were you up at the creek while she was bathing anyway?" Jealousy engulfed him as he thought about this man seeing her naked.

Anger at being questioned by a boy flashed through his eyes, but he quickly extinguished it. The boy wasn't accusing him of anything, just asking a simple question any friend would ask. "I couldn't sleep, so I went for a walk. I saw a man standing on the other side of the creek and went to investigate, that's when I saw Miss Matthews in the creek. You know the rest. Cade turned and left the bunkhouse with John staring after him.

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